The maritime union Nautilus International has called for the UK to lead a “new and concerted drive to end the appalling litany” of seafarer fatalities in enclosed spaces. The union wrote to the then Shipping Minister John Hayes following an incident in March in which two seafarers died in a cargo hold of the Isle of Man-flagged cargo ship Sally Ann C, of the Carisbrooke Shipping.
The union said: “Investigations into the incident which took place off the coast of west Africa are continuing, but it is known that the Chief Officer and Chief Engineer died after entering a hold where timber was stowed and the Second Officer had to be rescued after losing consciousness when he went to the aid of his colleagues.” In his letter to the minister, Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said: “There is evidence to show that more seafarers die or are injured in enclosed spaces than through any other onboard work activity.
“Changes in ship design and operation, the nature of cargoes, the increasing amounts of chemicals being carried, along with reduced manning levels and radical changes in crewing practices are all factors which have driven the increase in such incidents.”
“We believe that requirements for oxygen meters to be positioned at the entrance to enclosed spaces would reinforce to seafarers the potential risks that they face, as well as providing ready access to information about the state of such spaces.”